Solo A Sliver of Time

Tarn takes a stroll through the city and encounters a peculiar artifact.

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A lawless town of anarchists, built on the ruins of an ancient mining city. [Lore]

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A Sliver of Time

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 15th, 2018, 4:51 am

Timestamp: 25th, Summer, 518 AV


A light fog hung over the city as Tarn stepped out of the barracks, stifling a yawn. He winced as the slight motion sparked a spike of pain in his aching throat. He rubbed his neck, imagining the bruise he knew was visible there from his rather unfriendly encounter with a Daggerhand last night. The bruising was worse on his chest and ribs, but thankfully the shirt and studded leather armor he had donned hid that from view. It was best to never show more weakness than was necessary in Sunberth. There were always vultures looking for easy prey.

Gritting his teeth and doing his best to ignore the pain, Tarn strode forward. Luckily, he hadn’t taken any duties this morning and was free until the afternoon. Tarn would have spent as much time as possible in his cot, except even now with the measly rest he had gotten, his whole body was stiff as a board, and seemed to scream in protest every time he moved.

Tarn didn’t particularly look forward to reporting for duty like this, so he hoped a stroll around Sunberth—hopefully without armed confrontation this time—would serve to loosen his muscles and ease some of his pains.

As a whole, the Sun’s Refuge—the last corner of the city that the Sun’s Birth could claim as their own—was a nice place. The streets were kept clean, and the buildings were well kept, and decidedly grander than those in just about any other portion of the city. Even the people who walked the streets were much cleaner and more well-dressed than the average denizen of the city. While certainly not as sizable as the territories other gangs claimed as their own, the Sun’s Refuge was as good a place in the city as anywhere. It was pleasant, and if nothing else, Tarn could say with a surety that here he wouldn’t be beaten half to death by a thief in an alleyway.

As he continued though, Tarn noticed a few faults in the glorious façade the Sun’s Birth had built here. There were fewer dangerous, hawk-eyed men in the streets, yes, but as many and more than you would expect in any other quarter of the city dwelt on the rooftops. Archers and scouts, scanning the crowds below them, poised to strike at the sight of trouble. This could be justified of course, in the name of order, but there were other things too. The way a woman shied away with fear in her eyes as a particular man passed by, a weaselly man in a dark corner sniffing his next hit with wild eyes, or the bruises on the knuckles of a large Dragoon returning from the city. It wasn’t the first time Tarn had noticed these things. They were blaringly apparent to anybody who spent much time in the area. Tarn had come to the conclusion that however nice this part of the city was for him, it still had problems. It just hid them deeper than the others.

Wordcount: 507
Last edited by Tarn Alrenson on July 15th, 2018, 4:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Tarn Alrenson
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A Sliver of Time

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 15th, 2018, 4:52 am

Tarn walked through the border of the Sun’s Refuge without incident, exchanging nods with the guards stationed there. Tarn had been assigned to that duty once or twice. It was boring work, for the most part, but occasionally heartbreaking. The guards that held that line were all under orders to be judicious about the outsiders they let through. Tarn never liked turning people away. It wasn’t that long ago that he had been one of the people just like those that were sent back at blade point. He

had been worse off than many of them, actually. He remembered all too well approaching guards like these, still in grief for his father and grandfather and submitting his plea for entry to the organization.

The guards were rough with outsiders and hadn’t really let up until the eight-pointed sun was burned into his hand. Many of them were jaded, having fought in the bloody struggle that had seen them forced out of the gated community. Many had friends that were killed that day. Maybe it had been different before, but now guard duty was grim work.

Once outside the Sun’s Birth’s sphere of immediate influence, appearances quickly took a turn for the worse. Many of the buildings and establishments in this part of the city were still grand, at least compared to the rest of Sunberth, but it was dirtier, and wary looks occupied everyone’s faces. Tarn was bereft of his spear—he found it drew more attention than he generally liked on excursions like this one—but the sword he wore buckled to his waist served well enough alongside the brand on his hand to keep the more predatory occupants of the city at bay. Unlike within the Sun’s Refuge, signs of corruption and travesty here sat on the surface, all too apparent to anybody with eyes to see.

Empty eyed and hollow cheeked prostitutes roamed the streets, searching for customers so they could acquire enough coin to secure their next meal. Dirty, haggard beggars congregated at corners and the mouths of alleys. Tarn had to tear his eyes away from their pleading gazes. He could have been one of them so easily. Many of them were where they were as a mere product of chance. The difference between a pauper and a king rested on a toss of the dice.

The buildings grew smaller and the crowds grew denser as Tarn ventured into the market. The air was crowded with the cries of merchants hawking their wares, men and women calling out to each other, and the other sounds of a marketplace crowd. Though he did his best to skirt the denser knots of people, Tarn frequently had to nudge and force his way through. Eventually Tarn came out the other side of the market into a set of streets that was decidedly less crowded, nursing his ribs where he had taken a few elbows to his bruises.

Here in the Commons, Tarn was only a few streets away from the spot where he had received those bruises last night. He took a winding route to avoid that street. The chances he would encounter the same Daggerhand he had met before were slim, but he didn’t want to risk it.

Wordcount: 541
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Tarn Alrenson
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A Sliver of Time

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 15th, 2018, 6:33 am

As he passed between low buildings and dirty hovels, musing upon his own thoughts, a small child running out of a narrow alley tripped and fell, the toy she was holding in her hands flying out in front of her and landing just in front of Tarn’s feet. With a small smile, and resisting a light chuckle, Tarn stooped over to retrieve the toy. It was a doll, simply constructed. Likely, it had been woven from clothes the child—or maybe her siblings—had outgrown. Tarn stood up and brushed off the doll.

At the mouth of the alley the little girl was picking herself off the ground, ignoring the dirt clinging to her in the way that children did. Tarn turned and stretched the doll out to her, offering it back wordlessly. Seeing it, she reached out to grab her toy. Just as she laid her hands on it and took the doll, the little girl saw the brand on the back of the hand that gave it to her. With a small cry, the girl dropped the doll, turning and running away. She ducked into an alley at the first opportunity.

Tarn stared at his own hand, then at the doll, now lying cockeyed in a muddy puddle. There was now no sign of its owner. His eyes were filled with a forlorn cast, and he stilled. Was that what he was to people? A thing to be feared, run away from? Tarn bent over once again, picking up the doll. It lay limply in his hands, and Tarn immediately thought of a corpse. With a shake of his head, Tarn set the doll down on the side of the street, near the alley the child had initially burst from. Maybe she would come back and get it. Tarn hoped so. Kids in this town needed all the comfort they could get, when there was any comfort to be found.

Tarn continued on his way, the rhythmic plodding of his footsteps somehow echoing with a sadder tone than before. Or perhaps it was Tarn’s imagination. Sometimes, it was hard to tell.

After an eternity of walking—or maybe just a few minutes—Tarn realized he had stopped at the foot of the Temple of the Unknown. Gazing upon the grand structure, now fallen in ruin, for the first time in his life Tarn decided to go in. Tarn was not a religious man. Considering the gods had done nothing for him in all his years that he could tell, Tarn saw no reason to give any special attention to any of them. They were the ones with near infinite power, so why should he be the one to do service for the other?

Nevertheless, Tarn strode into the empty and dilapidated cathedral. There were others here, of course. The temple was a place of peace, where troubled souls often came seeking solace, and Sunberth never had a shortage of troubled souls. The only surprise to Tarn as he looked upon the various weary and downtrodden occupants of the temple was that he was among them.

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A Sliver of Time

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 15th, 2018, 7:22 am

Tarn wandered among the old columns and once grand walls, eventually coming upon a secluded corner that wasn’t already taken. Tired, and wishing to rest his weary legs, Tarn sat down with his back against a wall that might have once housed a magnificent mural but now was just a discolored and mottled stone surface. Tarn felt the cold stone of the wall through his hair as he rested his head against it, closing his eyes briefly. He reflected on the last couple months. They had been chaos.

At one moment, he had been an apprentice shipwright, looking forward to a future in the field, maybe even one that might take him to different cities in far off lands. Then, like a lightning strike in the dead of night, his two loved ones, his father and grandfather, had been killed, their throats slit and their bodies dumped in a dark grimy alley. As far as Tarn had been able to puzzle out, they had gotten on the wrong side of one of the many smaller gangs in the area. On their way back to the small house they shared with Tarn from the carpentry shop where they worked, they had been killed, and everything of value had been stripped from their bodies.

Grief had hit Tarn like a hammer, sending him reeling. It had taken Tarn two weeks to get over the initial shock that he was alone. He took another week to realize why they had died, what had really killed them. The city was corrupt, diseased, and something had to be done about it. In another week Tarn joined the Sun’s Birth.

But now, Tarn questioned his decision. He had never believed Sun’s Birth to be perfect. Rather, he had seen them as the lesser of the evils that occupied his city, and the one most likely to drive the others out and be a force for good. However, the longer he spent in the gang, and the deeper he saw into their actions, the less of a difference he saw between them and the rest. The Sun’s Birth had caused their fair share of strife in Sunberth, and then some. Tarn wouldn’t leave. He had given an oath to the organization and meant to honor it. If he let his word of honor mean nothing, he would be as bad as the rest of them. He would have to hold firm if he was not to be corrupted like the Kelvic he had met thought he would be. The Sun’s Birth was not completely benign, but as far as he could tell, there was nothing in their creed that prevented him from being so. Or at least trying. But then again, as long as he supported the gang, as long as he wore their colors and bore weapons in their name, wasn’t he acting out the will of the corrupt? Allowing their evils to continue? Perhaps even promoting them? He was caught between the anvil and the hammer, and it made Tarn sick.

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A Sliver of Time

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 15th, 2018, 6:39 pm

Tarn sighed and opened his eyes. There was no use in sitting around doing nothing. As he moved to rise, something caught his eye. Beside him, lying on the ground was a small, miniature statue of a woman. He reached over, picking it up. The figure was about eight inches tall, smooth, carved from cool stone, and from what Tarn could tell it was of supreme craftsmanship. He was surprised to find it. Tarn thought anything of value would have been stripped from this place a long time ago, and this certainly looked like a skilled salesman could make a pretty Miza off of selling it. Tarn examined it. It probably represented some deity, or at least a very important person, but Tarn didn’t recognize whoever it was. With a snort, Tarn set it aside, standing up. He had no use for little idols, especially when he didn’t even know who it was of.

Tarn stretched his legs, and just as he was prepared to leave, heading back to the barracks, he was interrupted by a serene female voice.

“Why do you cast aside the things of greatest worth to you, Tarn?”

Tarn spun around, searching. There didn’t appear to be anyone around, but he had heard the voice address him, clear as day. Eventually, his gaze settled on the little statue. Except, it didn’t look like a statue anymore. To his eyes, there was an eight-inch-tall woman standing on the broken tile floor. She looked to be in her middle ages, but it was difficult to tell. Her hair was bright, like burnished silver, and her face was smooth, almost youthful. Standing there, even with here small size, the woman commanded an impressive sense of grace and control.

“What— ah, wh-what are you?” Tarn said, stumbling over his words and his feet as well as he took a few hurried steps backward.

“A good question, albeit asked somewhat improperly,” the woman said. “I am an idol, as you can see. A divine creation of the goddess Tanroa, mistress of the river of time, imbued with a miniscule shard of her power in order to see her will done on this world.”

Tarns was left mouth agape, searching for words. A creation of Tanroa? The name was familiar to him, but she was not spoken of often. When she was, it was in hushed, reverent tones. Tarn knew little else other than her name.

“Why?” was the only thing he could bring himself to say, struck dumb for words. The little woman smiled gently.

“The goddess Tanroa sees all of time before her. What was, what is, and what will be all fall under her gaze. Her purposes in action are an enigma to mortals such as yourself. However, I have been sent down here by her will, and have chosen you as the recipient of the gifts which I can offer. I will use what wisdom I have to guide you, and help you navigate the troubled waters you journey across. In addition to advice, I also possess… other abilities, which I can lend to your cause if they are needed. In order for me to animate and function in the way I am now, my goddess requires nothing more than a simple prayer to her each day. I will teach you the way in which you are to give this prayer, and then I will be able to assist you in any way I can.”

Wordcount: 577
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Tarn Alrenson
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A Sliver of Time

Postby Tarn Alrenson on July 16th, 2018, 1:52 am

Tarn stood in shock. He had heard of divine powers interacting with normal people before, either themselves or through emissaries, like this statue seemed to be. However, most of those stories came from sailors, usually ones too drunk walk in a straight line for more than three paces in a row. But here was a statue, a talking statue that claimed to be a product of the goddess of time herself?

“Wait,” Tarn began, scrambling to gather his wits about him again, “if you’re giving me advice, what are you advising me towards? What are you trying to get me to do?”

“Tarn, you must understand. I have chosen you, I am now tied to you stronger than any mortal chain. I am in your service, and I am in perpetual service to Tanroa, but those are not exclusive goals by any means,” said the little statue, who appeared as lifelike as any woman Tarn saw on the street, except for her miniscule size.

Tarn considered her warily. Some gods could be fickle—at least according to sailors’ stories—and he didn’t want to be played for a fool.

“And what’s the catch? For you to stay… alive, or whatever you are now, I have to pray to Tanroa, and what? What more?”

“There is no catch, Tarn, son of Alren. If you pray in the way I show you, each day I shall awaken and do all that is in my power to help you. No further duties are required of you, and no claim has been made on your life. You are still your own man, for as long as you wish to be. I may choose to guide you towards actions I believe to be expedient, but I will not attempt to deceive you into something you do not understand.”

Tarn stared inquisitively at the little statue. He took a few steps toward it and crouched down.

“So, the gods, they actually act? We are not all beneath their notice?”

The statue met Tarn’s gaze,

“The gods always act Tarn, they always help, in more ways than you could count or recognize in a lifetime. You are not beneath their notice, but often their influence is beneath yours.”

Tarn cast his eyes downward, staring at the cracked tile beneath him.

“Show me the prayer, please,” Tarn asked the statue quietly.

“Of course,” she replied.

“And thank you,” Tarn added. With a smile, the little statue answered,

“Of course.”

And so, Tarn knelt in a temple long abandoned by its original patron, listening to the instructions of a tiny idol on how to honor the goddess of time, thanking her for her gift. He learned the manner of language with which he was to speak, the proper addresses, and the way he was to cast his mind. Tarn followed the instructions to the letter, wondering if perhaps he wasn’t so alone in this life after all.

Wordcount: 488
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Tarn Alrenson
Refuses to bend, about to break.
 
Posts: 65
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Joined roleplay: June 27th, 2018, 3:14 am
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A Sliver of Time

Postby Kynier on August 4th, 2018, 4:07 am

Grades!


Skill Rewards
  • Endurance +1
  • Land Navigation +1
  • Observation +5
  • Interrogation +1

Lores Learned
  • Location: Temple of the Unknown
  • Observation: Best to not show more weakness than necessary
  • Sun’s Birth: Seemed to be the lesser of evils
  • Sun’s Refuge: As good a place as any
  • Sun’s Refuge: Nice, but still has its problems
  • Self: Guard duty in Sun’s Refuge is boring but heartbreaking
  • Self: Not sure what he is to people
  • Tanroa: Mistress of the River of Time
  • Tanroa Idol: How to activate with prayer
  • Tanroa Idol: Will offer guidance


Rewards
  • Idol of Tanroa

Other Notes
Make sure to link this thread to Regime's DS Office so it can be added to your ST secrets.

This was a good thread. I liked how it reveals more about Tarn's mentality about himself and his choices. If you have an questions or concerns about your grade please feel free to PM me.
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